J'lem school denied funds for refusing Sephardim

City council freezes NIS 10 million for haredi girls school until it agrees to accept four Sephardi school girls.

May 27, 2013 20:20
1 minute read.
Sephardi school girl discriminated against [Illustrative].

Sephardi school girl crying 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Noar KaHalacha)

The Jerusalem City Council’s Finance Committee has decided to freeze NIS 10 million in funds for the haredi girls school Darkei Rachel until it agrees to accept four Sephardi girls who have been refused entry since the beginning of the academic year.

Many Ashkenazi haredi girls schools allegedly operate unofficial quotas for Sephardi pupils, requiring that they not exceed 30 percent of a school’s annual student intake.

The decision taken on Sunday night conditions the transfer of the funds on the acceptance of the girls as pupils at the school.

According to the Noar Kahalacha advocacy group, data and documents it has collected demonstrate that a de facto 30% quota for Sephardi girls exists in many haredi high schools, particularly in the most prestigious schools in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Betar Illit and Modi’in Illit.

City councillor Asher Mishaeli (Shas), who led the fight for the girls in question, emphasized the need to fight such discrimination, although he said he believed the problem was gradually being tackled.

“The finance committee has put an end to this situation where four girls have been sitting at home because of discriminatory practices,” Mishaeli said, adding that such policies were backed by rabbis from the haredi community.

Yoav Laloum, director of Noar Kehalacha, welcomed the stance taken by Mishaeli and the municipality, but said that the fact remains that in the best Ashkenazi schools, the quotas remain in place.

At the beginning of the academic year, approximately 30 girls in Jerusalem had not been enrolled in any school because of discriminatory policies, while Education Ministry figures showed that 393 students, mostly Sephardi, had not been accepted into Ashkenazi-majority schools in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Beitar Illit, Modi’in Illit and Elad.

The issue of discrimination against Sephardi schoolgirls caused a political and social storm in 2009, when the High Court of Justice ordered an Ashkenazi school in the haredi settlement of Emmanuel to cease all practices separating Ashkenazi and Sephardi girls.

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